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French energy giant EDF is to spend £22bn in the UK over the next 12 years building four new nuclear plants.

Soaring costs of components have pushed up capital costs by 25%, but the French are confident their UK nuclear investment will make a profit and not require subsidies.

The size of EDF's investment in the UK - it has just agreed to buy British Energy for £12.5bn - dwarfs its investment elsewhere.

Details of EDF's plans were revealed in Paris last Thursday. The papers showed that EDF hoped to have its first UK nuclear plant up and running by late 2017.

The news came at the same time as Areva, France's premier nuclear reactor builder, announced a new partnership with Rolls-Royce and construction group Balfour Beatty to build new nuclear power stations in the UK.

Areva believes there will be demand for about a dozen new nuclear plants over the next two decades.

The involvement of Rolls-Royce and Balfour Beatty will help to alleviate concerns that Britain's nuclear industry is falling into foreign hands.

Energy Minister Mike O'Brien said: 'The partnership with two of our biggest companies, Rolls-Royce and Balfour Beatty, will provide up to 15,000 British manufacturing and construction jobs for 25 years.'

Balfour Beatty said construction of the first new European reactor could begin as early as 2013.

 
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